The System


Pulled over for an illegal U-Turn
into the Home Depot parking lot
on the south side of our county,
the pickup truck and day laborer
side, the busted taillight and duct
taped window side, I’m eight months
pregnant. The police, hunched
to my window, holstered gun and
duty rig, red lights whistling blood,
stares, waits. He’s asked me why
he pulled me over. He wants me
to put it in my own words, to admit
guilt. Elegance comes to mind,
how this road and shopping center
lack it. How a body must negotiate
a series of patchwork connections
every time one’s approaching
from the wrong direction.
This intersection, designed by
a person who would never
navigate it. Can I say architecture?
I’m a construction zone seeking
safety in a world of sharp edges.
The U-Turn offered me a hug.
I was following the crow: no energy
to spare. On the bus that morning,
I’d stood for 45 minutes,
walked three blocks to work and
back. Time in my dented Toyota
a twilight luxury. I guess I got
carried away. This intersection can’t
afford elegance, and I’m not allowed
to construct it here. The child in me
kicks and punches. I ask: Was it the U-
Turn, officer?


Katie Kemple‘s poems have been recently published or are soon forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Little Patuxent Review, Lullwater Review, Paterson Literary Review, and The South Carolina Review.

Al Keltner comments: “Simple, quick and beautiful moments are all around us at any given moment. The trick is remembering to look.”